Joseph Zieler, to be sentenced in cold case killings, elbows attorney

Posted at 9:56 AM, June 26, 2023 and last updated 12:52 PM, June 26, 2023

By: Rebecca Weis

LEE COUNTY, Fla. (Scripps News Fort Myers/Court TV) — The man convicted of killing an 11-year-old girl and her babysitter elbowed his attorney in the face just hours ahead of his sentencing Monday.

The incident occured seconds after Joseph Zieler entered a Lee County courtroom and motioned to speak with his attorney, Kevin Shirley.

oseph Zieler elbows his attorney in court

Joseph Zieler elbows his attorney in court Monday, June 26, 2023. (Scripps News Fort Myers)

Zieler threw an elbow in Shirley’s face as he walked over and leaned into him.

Immediately after the incident deputies tackled Zieler to the ground.

Shirley told Scripps News Fort Myers, “It seemed like he didn’t want our conversation to be picked up by the microphones. So he waved me down and I bent over, and he struck me. The Bailiffs were extremely quick to respond and eliminated any future threat.”

Last month, Zieler was convicted in the 1990 murders and sexual assaults of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and her babysitter, 32-year-old Lisa Story.

He was back in court this morning in hopes of getting a retrial after a jury voted in favor of Zieler getting the death penalty.

Following the incident and hearing, the judge denied Zieler’s motion for a new trial and decided not to overturn his conviction.

Zieler is scheduled to be sentenced today 1:30 p.m. He’s facing 25 years in prison or the death penalty.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Forth Myers, an E.W. Scripps Company.